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What exactly is meant by “love and compassion”? What are some ways you can cultivate genuine compassion towards all living things?
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama aptly said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” However, when we get caught up in the everyday ebb and flow of life, acting with compassion is easier said than done. However, you don’t need to be a Buddhist saint to approach life from a place of love and compassion.
Here’s how you can make an effort to show compassion in your daily life.
The Importance of Love and Compassion
Suffering in life is guaranteed. This idea is present in every major religion, and it’s obvious in everyday life. Outcomes are unequal. People are born with different abilities. Some people get worse treatment than others.
Love and compassion are the only antidotes to this state of affairs. Expressing compassion for all living things connects you with the rest of the universe.
With this in mind, here are three ways you can infuse the world with more love and compassion.
Withhold Unnecessary Criticism
You can’t possibly feel genuine love and compassion for other human beings if you’re always looking for things to criticize. When you criticize others—even if you don’t voice your criticism—not only do you create unnecessary negativity in your interactions with people, you are tainting your own mind with negative thoughts.
If you have a tendency toward criticism, try to refrain entirely from making any critical statements for one day—this should make you aware of how habitual the behavior is. Then, notice whether your criticisms are things you can do something about and, if so, just do what it takes to resolve it. However, you’ll notice that most of your criticisms are not productive, and when you realize this, you’ll become aware of how unnecessary they are and eventually stop the habit.
TITLE: The Big Leap
AUTHOR: Gay Hendricks
Find Things in Common Between Yourself and Others
Another way you can start acting with more love and compassion towards others is to search for commonalities between yourself and others. Always approach others with the conviction that you have a lot in common. Let’s say you’re going on a first date with someone who works in a different field at a different pay grade. Rather than feeling that you can’t possibly have anything in common, approach them with the conviction that you actually have a lot in common: You’re both humans with the need for affection and care. This lets you approach the date with love and compassion rather than enmity.
Also, as far as possible, take into account someone’s background when interacting with them. If you know someone’s struggling with a particular issue—illness, for instance—it might account for their closed-off behavior. Bring extra compassion to the interaction, and you might break through the barrier of antagonism.
TITLE: The Art of Happiness
AUTHOR: Dalai Lama
Loving Kindness Meditation
Finally, you can cultivate your sense of compassion towards others through metta meditation. In the language of Pali, which is closely related to Sanskrit, the word metta signifies goodwill and benevolent energy. When you project metta out to other people, you feel more at peace with yourself and others, with your anger and resentment fading away. Your words and your deeds become warmer, and you live with others in harmony. Buddhist monk Bhante Henepola Gunaratana provides the following recitation for wishing love and compassion to others:
“May all beings in all directions, all around the universe, have good hearts. Let them be happy, let them have good fortune, let them be kind, let them have good and caring friends. May all beings everywhere be filled with the feeling of loving friendliness – abundant, exalted, and measureless. May they be free from enmity, free from affliction and anxiety. May they live happily.”
TITLE: Mindfulness in Plain English
AUTHOR: Bhante Gunaratana
At our core, humans are compassionate, cooperative, and friendly. Over millions of years, our species has evolved to support each other and work together. However, in everyday life, it’s easy to get consumed by your own goals and problems and forget to take a step back and show the world a little love. However, acts of love and compassion can actually help pull you out of that everyday routine, reduce stress, and release negative feelings.
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